Sled Dogs, The - Salute


Year of Release: 2002
Label: self-released / Wooden House Music
Catalog Number: 0001
Format: CD
Total Time: 40:35:00

The Sled Dogs' sound is decidedly American -- it is of a small northern farming town, where this is the house band that plays in the local bar; a bar whose clientele is a mix of blue collar and farming. I want to point out that the production on this CD is excellent and it has a terrific sound. The performances are also of a high standard. That small town sound has to do with the arrangements and instrument choice, not production values. I don't know if it's because of the album artwork, but the sound this band has is like hearing them at an outdoor venue, playing beneath clear and starry skies.

Making the case that Salute is prog will be a tough sell. You have to look at the instrumental "Five Four" that features some excellent (there's that word again) guitar work and lovely tinkling piano work and to the driving rhythms of "The Stream." In both case it is prog of a decidedly American flavour, and yet except for maybe Kansas, I can't name a single US prog band to compare them to. No violins, but the lead guitar work fills that role here in "The Stream." It is of Point Of Know Return period Kansas (and maybe of "Lightning's Hand" specifically). Jeff Maas guests on Chapman Stick on the instrumental "Distant Origin" which arrives at prog via maybe Gordian Knot (and not just because of the Stick being the instrument of choice for Sean Malone) or maybe Kopecky. It is a bit fusion with some very acidic playing -- not sure if it's the guitar or the guitar-like strings of the Stick but by the end of the track, there is a swirling wall of sound... Overall it's a fairly cool and moody track. Rush sort of comes to mind... a hint of "YYZ" maybe in the middle third.

The rest of the album falls squarely in the style I began this review with -- where we can name-check Neil Young (here in "Just Away"), a bit of Bruce Hornsby And The Range, a bit of the Eagles. A bit of a lot of folks of a Midwest, mid-tempo down-to-earth rock style. That is, music about ordinary folks with ordinary troubles. Young comes to mind again with the very warm "Troubles At The Door" in the vocals of Bill Lauftenberg; musically, it seems on the verge of breaking into Firefall's "Just Remember I Love You." This latter element especially in the rhythm of acoustic guitars.

They get a little more country with the folksy, jaunty, upbeat "Ace," a piece that made me think of "I'll Never Find Another You" by The Seekers, a folk-rock band of the 60s. They follow this with the dark and gloomy "No Sun." Very dark and gloomy... funereal even. "Another Place" is another musically dark piece, though lyrically it is positive ... you'll hear bits and pieces of familiar music. Mostly you'll think of "Whiter Shade Of Pale" by Procol Harum (though there's a line in the lyric that made me think of Dave Mason's "We Just Disagree" ... and a few others I won't mention). It's only fault is that it cliché ridden. And maybe a little on the sappy side. "Winter Solstice" works a little too hard lyrically, a little too direct.

Ah, but what they do, they do very well. As mentioned, great guitar and keyboard work and well worth checking out, even if it isn't strictly a prog release.


Tracklisting:
Just Away (5:46) / Five Four (4:32) / Troubles At The Door (4:37) / Ace (3:46) / No Sun (3:38) / Another Place (3:58) / Winter Solstice (5:21) / The Stream (5:03) / Distant Origin (5:54)

Musicians:
Bill Laufenberg - vocals, rhythm guitars, harmonicas, percussion
Rick Tvedt - guitars, vocals
Matt Underwood - keyboards, guitars, vocals, percussion
Regis D White - bass
Dunes - percussion

Guest:

Jeff Maas - Chapman Stick (9), bass (2)

[White and Dunes have since left the band -ed.]

Discography:
Salute (2002)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: May 4th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.thesleddogs.com
Hits: 729
Language: english

  

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